COREY NICHOLS SPEAKS ON “EDUCATION”

Okay, so let’s get this one out of the way. What was your response to my little crack about “pathological slickness”? Tell me why I’m a big jerk….I can take it! ^ It was that crack actually which prompted me to contact you. I believe the comment was too harsh. After all, I was re-elected by my peers several times. And it’s kind of frustrating seeing someone characterize me like that without having been involved. With the exception of Shelby, all of the commission members stood behind me. However, I did have a political job to do and it probably would have been better if I’d been a little smoother in dealing with people.

How did you get involved with the Lubbock Youth Commission? How did the “abstinence-only” versus “comprehensive” sex-education issue become such a major part of its agenda? ^ My debate partner in high school actually served as mayor before me, and she helped me get involved. The sex-ed issue was the single most important issue affecting youths in Lubbock but, contrary to popular opinion, we did a lot more than just sex-ed. We helped raise school supplies for underprivileged youths and children, we took part in anti-drug rallies, and many other things. The sex-ed issue just got the most attention.

How do you think the personal antipathy between you and Shelby began? ^ It started when I beat her for youth council mayor. She resented me for that, and it escalated a month or two later when the Commission went for what were supposed to be some fun, team-building exercises.

One of the activities was to have a member stand a distance from the rest of the group and get tennis balls tossed to them. It was my turn to catch the tennis balls. For the first toss Shelby wound up to pitch it at me, rather than toss it to me. Luckily, our treasurer at the time grabbed her hand and didn’t let her throw.

On the second toss, I was not so lucky. She pitched that thing with great accuracy, hitting me in a place no man should get hit. She started laughing after that. Needless to say, from that moment on I never really got along with her.

When you first realized that you might be one of the “stars” of a documentary, what did you think? Were you excited? Worried? ^ When the documentary first came up, I was told that it was going to be about the youth commission and our efforts. As the youth commission mayor, I was excited about the opportunity to share our story.

However, I never gave the documentary much personal access. They wanted me and other members to take them to parties and stuff, which I felt was inappropriate and could reflect negatively on the commission. I was worried of course when I found out the film would be about Shelby.

Would you have been relieved, or even more concerned, if they’d told you they wanted to make “The Education of Corey Nichols”? ^ Definitely more concerned. I really cared more about running the youth commission than I ever did the film or any media attention we ever received. And, like I said, I didn’t, and don’t, want my personal life on camera.

What was your reaction when you first saw the film? What do you think Rose and Marion got right and where do you think they missed out? ^ Overall, I thought the film wasn’t bad. It was from Shelby’s point of view. When you look at it from that light, a lot of what transpired in it makes sense. Of course, I would have preferred the story be about the entire commission – it’s not just the work of one person.

They did make two specific mistakes, in my opinion.

First, at one point in the movie they cut it to look like I had returned our budget and agreed not to do the sex-ed issue anymore, and you see Shelby calling me a “sell out” as if she’d said it in the immediate aftermath.

The truth was, I never agreed to stop pursuing the issue. The city was looking to get rid of us any way they could, and cutting our budget was really just an excuse for making us go away. So, in what I consider one of my best moves as mayor, I immediately called a press conference, expressed sympathy for the tight budget at city hall, and returned our funds publicly — so they then couldn’t cut us. This all happened in October, and we would not make our final presentation to the school board for another four or five months.

By the time we were going the make the actual presentation, everyone on the commission, save Shelby, agreed we would wind the issue down. In November, an article had come out in the local paper saying that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock births had dropped — and that the commission had played a leading role because of our informational work and things like running our own sex-ed classes, getting the schools to put out pamphlets that at least provided more information on STDs, and moving informational puberty talks down from fifth to fourth grade.

The second thing I wish the film showed was the problems Shelby caused on the commission. I had over fifteen people quit the commission throughout my tenure that they attributed to their frustrations with Shelby and her behavior. Often she would break down crying and throw a fit when she didn’t get her way. I was actually forced to remove her from the position of parliamentarian because she wasn’t doing her job and keeping order during the meetings.

Her resignation from the council was the result of an agreement that she would be allowed to make the presentation to the board in exchange for her leaving. This worked for everyone because, after the presentation, we were able to shift our attention to other issues and avoid any further major disruptions. These disruptions didn’t get shown in the film, but it was something those of us who were there in real life constantly had to deal with.

I’m sure you know about the Gerardo Flores case in East Texas. For the benefit of readers, he’s the nineteen year-old who was sentenced to life in prison for causing the miscarriage of twin fetuses by stepping on his girlfriend’s stomach after she had requested his help in ending the pregnancy. Any thoughts? ^ I think the guy belongs in jail for being a worthless example of a human being. He hit and physically harmed a woman, so lock him up.

And finally…NOW do you think you’ll go into politics? ^ At the time of the film I was pretty sure I would. But I have grown a lot since then and am developing significantly different priorities. I will say this I hope I am in a position someday where people want me to run for office. But as long as I have a good life and great family someday, I will have succeeded.

Just in case Shelby’s reading this, got anything you’d like to say to her? ^ Shelby, if you do read this, I have one thing to say to you…Well, I guess I have plenty to say about you, but only one thing to you: I hope you have a long and fulfilling life, but, if you don’t, I won’t lose sleep over it. Oh yeah, and saw varsity’s horns off! (Translation for baffled non-Texans: “My school will defeat your school in football!”)




Posted on June 21, 2005 in Interviews by
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